It came down to the final seconds, but Michigan State women’s basketball escaped with a three-point win in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament after the Nebraska Cornhuskers failed to tie the game on their last possession, missing two three-pointers.
MSU forced the Cornhuskers to call a timeout after going on a 7-0 run in the first minute and a half of the contest. Graduate student guard Kamaria McDaniel fueled the run with five points and a steal. The Spartans also forced four Nebraska turnovers during the stretch, scoring four off their giveaways.
Scoring was pretty balanced throughout the rest of the quarter as MSU entered the second quarter with a 15-9 lead. Senior forward Taiyier Parks gave the Spartans buckets off the bench, finishing with a quarter high six points. Nebraska struggled to convert on its shots in the first 10 minutes, only hitting three of their 15 attempts.
The Cornhuskers were able to cut their deficit to two midway through the second quarter thanks to two threes from junior guard Jaz Shelley. The Spartans also had happy feet, traveling plenty of times, which led to them giving the ball away four times in those five minutes.
Michigan State was able to keep their lead going into the halftime break 29-25. The Spartans kept up their solid shooting all half, going into the locker room shooting 11-23 from the field. After losing the turnover battle all of the first quarter, Nebraska managed to take the advantage into the half as they recorded 10 to MSU’s 13. The Spartans had 12 total points off turnovers after their early four while the Cornhuskers had eight.
Nebraska cut the MSU lead to one five minutes into the second half. After only managing three free throws in the first half, sophomore guard/forward Matilda Ekh started the final 20 minutes hot, hitting both of her shots with one of them being from beyond the three point arc. Graduate student guard Sam Haiby matched Ekh in that span with five points of her own.
After Nebraska gained the lead for just the second time all game late in the third quarter, sophomore guard DeeDee Hagemann spun and finished three-point play to give MSU a two-point lead going into the final quarter. Hagemann finished her third quarter with six total points, pushing her tοtal to a game-high 12 at that point.
The Spartans started the final quarter scorching as they pushed their lead to 10, forcing the Cornhuskers to call a timeout two and a half minutes in. Senior guard Moira Joiner had six of the team’s eight points during the run, with four of them coming off Nebraska turnovers.
After a Hagemann three extended MSU’s run to 14-0, Nebraska quickly responded with a 8-0 run of their own, forcing the Spartans to call a timeout with five minutes remaining leading by just five. Shelly hit her fifth three of the game to put her at 22 points on the afternoon, causing MSU to call the timeout.
The Spartans retained a lead throughout the fourth quarter but after a right wing three by McDaniel put MSU up six with a minute left, junior forward Isabelle Bourne hit a corner three to cut MSU’s lead to just three with 43 seconds left.
On the other end, Haiby drew an offensive foul on Ekh to give the Cornhuskers a chance to tie with a three with 16 seconds left.
Sophomore guard Maddie Krull had a wide open chance to tie the game in the final seconds after Shelly missed a three and offensive rebound, but she missed her right wing three to give MSU the 67-64 win.
With the win, MSU advances and will play No. 1 Indiana tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. EST.